How does low testosterone cause ED? Low testosterone levels in men are not uncommon, in fact they affect almost 40% of men aged 45 and older, although it’s also important to remember that low testosterone levels can affect men of any age. Changes in testosterone levels have been associated with a number of health conditions, including obesity, type 2 diabetes, metabolic syndrome, heart problems and Erectile Dysfunction.
What is testosterone?
Testosterone is an important hormone in the human body, and it plays a key role in the development of male reproductive tissues such as testes and prostate, as well as promoting secondary sexual characteristics such as increased muscle and bone mass, and the growth of body hair. Testosterone levels can be measured easily with a simple blood test.
What causes lower testosterone levels?
There are many different factors that are linked with lower testosterone levels.
A healthy diet is crucial to keeping levels of testosterone in check and can prevent those levels from falling too low.
1) Soy & Soy-based products: food items such as edamame, tofu, soy milk and miso may cause a drop in testosterone levels. Soy foods are also high in phytoestrogens, which are plant-based substances that mimic the effects of oestrogen in your body by altering hormone levels and potentially reducing testosterone.
2) Mint: some research shows that mint can cause a drop in testosterone levels.
3) Liquorice root: There have been several studies that suggest that liquorice can affect hormone levels and potentially lead to a decline in testosterone over time.
4) Vegetable oil: Many of the most common vegetable oils, including canola, soybean, corn and cottonseed oil, are loaded with polyunsaturated fatty acids. These fatty acids are classed as a healthy source of dietary fat, but they may also decrease testosterone levels, as several studies have suggested.
5) Processed foods: these foods are high in sodium, calories & added sugar. Processed foods are also often high in trans-fat, while we need fat within our diets, trans-fat is an unhealthy type of fat that can lead to increased risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes and inflammation. Some studies have also found that trans-fat can be linked to decreased levels of testosterone.
6) Alcohol: Studies show that excessive amounts of alcohol can also lead to a decreased level in testosterone, especially within men.
It’s important to remember that you do not need to avoid these foods altogether, but to be mindful of your diet and if you feel as though you indulge in too much of one food that could be linked to lowering testosterone levels, then you can try swapping these out for healthier options. Additionally, keeping up with a healthy lifestyle: getting enough sleep and exercising can also help to boost your testosterone levels, create and find a balance.
Between 19 and 39% of older men may be affected by low levels of testosterone, however younger men can also be affected.
Low levels of testosterone that are atypical of normal aging are due to other primary or secondary causes of hypogonadism. This happens in males when the testicles don’t produce enough testosterone and it can start during foetal development, during puberty, or during adulthood.
Primary hypogonadism: underactive testes as they do not produce sufficient levels of testosterone for growth and health, this can be inherited or by accident/illness.
Some people may have lower levels of testosterone via inherited traits, these can be:
– Undescended testicles: this happens when the testicles fail to descend from the abdomen before birth
– Klinefelter syndrome: a condition in which men are born with an extra X
– Hemochromatosis: too much iron in the blood that then causes testicular failure or pituitary damage.
Types of testicular damage that can lead to primary hypogonadism:
– Physical injury to the testicles, please note that injury must happen to both testicles in order to affect the testosterone levels.
– Mumps orchitis: a type of mumps infection that can injure the testicles.
– Cancer treatment: chemotherapy or radiation can damage the testicles.
Secondary hypogonadism: caused by damage to the pituitary gland or hypothalamus. These are parts of the brain that control hormone production by the testes.
Inherited or disease conditions in this category include:
– Pituitary disorders: Can be caused by drugs, kidney failure, or small tumours
– Kallmann syndrome: delayed or absent puberty and an impaired sense of smell. This is a condition resulting from a lack of production of certain hormones that direct sexual development.
– Inflammatory diseases: diseases such as tuberculosis, sarcoidosis, and histiocytosis, which can impact the pituitary gland and the hypothalamus.
– HIV/AIDS: which can affect the pituitary gland, hypothalamus, and testes
Acquired circumstances that can lead to secondary hypogonadism include:
– Normal aging: Aging affects production and response to hormones.
– Obesity: High body fat can affect hormone production and response.
– Medications: Opioid pain meds and steroids can affect function of the pituitary gland and hypothalamus.
– Concurrent illness: Severe emotional stress or physical stress from an illness or surgery can cause the reproductive system to temporarily shut down.
What are normal levels of testosterone?
A normal range is typically 300 to 1,000 ng/dL, according to the Food and Drug Administration. Testosterone levels can fluctuate throughout the day.
By age group:
Age Male (in ng/dl)
0 to 5 months 75-400
6 months to 9 years Less than 7-20
10 to 11 years Less than 7-130
12 to 13 years Less than 7-800
14 years Less than 7-1,200
15 to 16 years 100-1,200
17 to 18 years 300-1,200
19 years and older 240-950
How are testosterone levels tested by ED Clinics or GPs?
A blood test called a serum testosterone test is used to determine your level of circulating testosterone. Generally, by combining the results from the blood tests, physical exam, and medical history, the doctor can make a diagnosis of low testosterone (male hypogonadism). To figure out what’s causing your low testosterone, he or she may want to do additional tests, such as:
– MRI or CT scan: If the doctor thinks it could be a pituitary tumour causing male hypogonadism, they may wish to order a scan of your brain.
– Genetic studies: You may have an inherited condition that’s decreasing your testosterone levels. A genetic test can help the doctor understand your DNA make-up.
– Hormone tests: if the Dr suspect that it’s a pituitary abnormality leading to low testosterone, he or she may have you undergo other hormone tests to check your levels of other pituitary hormones.
Your ED might be caused by low levels of testosterone or a combination of factors, why not contact ED Clinics to see if we can help you.